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OMC Games/Projects: Age Of Darkness
Hellified Games Presents...
Age Of Darkness
System: Atari Jaguar & possibly another system.
Type: Action/ RPG
Release Date: (tentative)
Number of players: 1
Rating: Mature (17+)
Genre: Medieval Fantasy
We don't want to give the plot away, because the unfolding story is really what will make the game special. We can say this, if you like action/ RPG games and you've always wanted one with an intense plot, then this is your game. The designers do not intend to hold anything back or pull any punches. Age Of Darkness will not be for kids.
There will be a lot of room for the player to move and the towns are HUGE. We have put a lot of effort into making realistic towns and villages as well as people. The player will be able to get a job, create customized weapons and armor, and pretty much roam free. There are other additions which will add a new level to the genre.
Age Of Darkness is mostly 2D or pseudo 3D. We tried to limit the usage of polygons and so we're staying with hand-drawn sprites. The main character, Vorlan, will be well animated as well as other characters in the game. Every character will have a name and no two names will be alike. We still haven't decided on how to do the overland map, there are a few ideas we're trying, but we still have leaps and bounds before we have anything concrete. The characters, as well as the scenery, will be large. About the size of Streets of Rage 2 characters, except more colors per sprite. The backgrounds, building designs, and dungeons will also be colorful and highly detailed.
The combat system is one of the more unique aspects of the game. We can't divulge too much information on it, but to be a master it will require a fair amount of skill. Of course, the novice should fair well, but the expert will reap the rewards. There is a fair amount of complexity than the usual simple button presses, or holding down the button to charge an attack. Being gamers ourselves we know what its like to face the Frustration Factor because the programmers and designers of a game did not compensate for the "not so skilled", so we're spending more time to make sure it works for all skill levels. We think those who enjoy these types of games will be impressed.
The spell system is actually divided into two parts. Each with it's own advantages and disadvantages. We are still playing with some concepts so we can't really go into detail. More information will be added as it becomes available.
The music is still up in the air. We haven't decide whether to go with PCM or "Red Book" audio. Not only that, but we still haven't found a good musician to tackle the job. We're pretty picky, so its a tough spot to fill. We want the music to set the mood while simultaneously pleasing the ear. Also deciding on whether or not to use a classical score or a more alternative/ modern score is making the quest for a musical staff more interesting.
For those who are wondering why we chose to do the original game for the Jaguar, there were some things we had to consider. We needed a good sprite engine. The Saturn, which will take roughly the same amount of coding, was the next likely choice. The only reason the Jaguar beat it out was for two reasons:
1. The Jaguar Pro Controller is better suited for the level of flexibility we were looking for. The added buttons on the number pad gave us room to make important options readily accessible. With the Saturn and Playstation the player would have to "pause" the game to get to those options due to the limited number of buttons on the pad. Also, the player would not be faced with the decision of sacrificing an option, because he didn't have enough buttons. Of course, it would be possible to make a pad for either system, but that idea isn't practical for a lot of reasons.
2. The Saturn has a tough time with transparencies. The Playstation and N64 perform them just fine, but neither one is the sprite monster we need to accomplish the end goal. The patterned pseudo transparencies the Saturn is capable of doing do not appeal to the eye. They work in some cases, but we couldn't justify the sacrifice. Maybe with Sega's next hardware we would reconsider.
Of course, Age Of Darkness will most likely see life on another system, but which one is a different subject.
More information will be posted as development continues. For now, we think this should answer the questions people have been asking.
MORE NOTES: August 13, 1997
Lately, we've been having to adjust the plot due to problems with keeping the player on task. From a design standpoint there are major problems with trying to keep the action from being too linear. This particular problem has forced us to reconsider some of the subplots and other side events we had in mind. Of course, this adjustment may only be temporary, and we don't feel that the exclusion of some subplots would make the game any less enjoyable, but it does limit the amount of time the player spends away from the main plot. We're still working out the specific details, and unfortunately the more time we spend on it will delay the game that much longer. We're hoping we can adjust the game engine a little so we might be able to avoid backtracking or eliminating all of the ideas we had already planned.
MORE NOTES: September 3, 1997
We've been doing more work on the plot and working out the kinks is becoming a major task. A lot of attention is being paid to the little details which will add "spice" to Age Of Darkness in a different way than any other RPG. Because of this we felt it was necessary to note that Age Of Darkness is basically a "thinking man's" game. Those who really enjoy reading a good book, or even reflecting on a bit of philosophy will enjoy Age more than anyone else. Some of the social situations Vorlan will encounter will have more impact on those who really get into the role of their on screen characters. We hope everyone will enjoy Age Of Darkness, but it will really be a different type of console RPG.
There have been some questions about screen shots, but in truth we are still trying to find a full-time artist to handle our demands. Finding an artist is easy, but finding a great artist is tougher. We have also not spent a lot of time on the visual effects because we're still trying to make sure the play mechanics work in the system we have prepared. Visuals are just that, but gameplay and a smooth user interface comes first. So graphics will be the last area to be tackled. You'll know when we reach that point because we'll most likely have some screen shots available.
MORE NOTES: September 27, 1997
This weekend we should have the plot completely finished. There have been a number of holes that needed to be addressed and it seems as though we'll have them ironed out sooner than expected. Once we get the plot cleaned up then we can return our focus to other areas of the game but since some of the other options we were working on kept conflicting with the parts of the plot we hadn't decided on we felt it was time to finally work out the kinks.
We finally found someone to assist us by working on various bits of art throughout the game but we still have yet to find a full time artist. Interestingly enough, the person we're working with now is good at medieval art so we'll see how it works out. Also our search for a musician may have come to an end as we now have two candidates but its still too early to know whether either one or both individuals will work on the project.
As the plot has been progressing we've focused a lot on the epic tale while adding quite a few heart-pounding action scenes. We like to call it a tribute to John Woo movies. How these scenes work on the screen is going to be the biggest challenge, but we now know for sure the hardware can handle the processing. At this stage we're expecting Age to provide the gamer with about 100+ hours of game time. Seems kind of ambitious but we're hoping we don't have to ever do a sequel.
There are a number of disturbing scenes in Age Of Darkness and it should be noted that it is not a game for the faint hearted and its not really the graphic violence or the mild nudity, but the overall intensity of the game. If all goes well, those who played Legacy of Kain will realize how tame it actually was. Of course, we're not going for shock value, but when working on certain scenes such as a person close to the main character getting killed fairly gruesomely we didn't pull any punches. There will be a parental awareness label on the box as well as in the game because we don't want anyone to be ignorant of this before they start playing. On a lighter note, the violence will be well timed and in good taste. In truth, we may be making it out to be more than it actually is, but its better to be informed of these things.
Earlier it was stated we weren't sure whether the music was to be "red book" audio or PCM but it seems that due to some memory constraints we'll use "red book" audio and possibly PCM only during moments when loading needs to be quick and unnoticeable in order to not break the action. There are also a number of advantages of "red book" audio which we won't go into detail at the moment.
MORE NOTES: December 6, 1997
by James Garvin
There has been a lot of progress in the project over the past couple of months. I've seen the game transform from a little action/RPG to an epic tale of great proportions. It's really almost scary how things worked out. I've managed to get most of the plot together except the ending which has been giving me fits for weeks now. So if anyone was to ask me to tell the story of Vorlan, I could do so until I got to the end where I'd have to make something up. The problem is that I want an inspiring ending. There's no point to putting in 80 hours only to get to the end of the game and feel like you were let down because of its lack of significance. I know that's one thing that bummed a lot of my friends out about Final Fantasy VII. The ending has to be just as powerful as the rest of the story and if it isn't that's going to ruin the effect. I'm not going to ignore this, because I'm a great lover of RPGs and many times I've felt a bit cheated by the lack of a great ending.
We're just starting to work on preliminary sketches of Vorlan. I've always had this idea of what he was to look like, but when it came down to actually doing the art I began to get a bit nervous about it. The original idea for Vorlan was a Caucasian with a HUGE axe in the essence of Robert E. Howard, but somewhere down the line he changed into a Black man who used a variety of weapons. That tells you how quickly things can change as the debates wear on. So with that it was now just a matter of representing power without overdoing it. There's no sense in making him look like the Hulk, but then again we don't want him to look like Jimmy Walker either. I'm thinking somewhere in between. The hard part about designing is that you have to "discover" the look you were originally after. It's like drawing a picture based off of a thought you had of what it would look like. I've tried it many times only to fail miserably. I guess, the biggest problem is that we aren't really sure what the look is we're after. If that makes any sense. I was originally thinking something like comic book art, but trying to keep that consistent style throughout the game is going to be tough. We figured we'd go the Japanese rout, but decided against it because it's an American game. I've like the style of Myst, but most of that is computer generated. I like hand drawing and scanning, but that's just me. I'm sure we'll be debating this concept for another couple of months and hopefully we'll have a regular artist by then.
The thing we've been spending the most time on is the script. You can't have a good game without a good script. At least I think so. There is a difference between:
"Darn! He got away!" and
"Damn! The bastard got away!"
Which do you think has more feeling? I write short stories also so I get to work on dialogue all of the time. There has to be some feeling behind it for it to be believable. I've seen poor dialogue all the time and I always hate it when writers try to "create" powerful commentary out of nothing. In other words, using "damn" or "shit" without any regard as to how it's used. There's no point in trying to force a mood on someone, it really should come naturally. I don't just mean profane words, but the whole script. Every scene must be handled with care in order to draw the player or reader into the story. If you can't do that, then all of your effort is wasted. Picture this scene:
You just find your best friend was seriously wounded by a group of thugs from the southern coast and you find him propped up against a wall bleeding to death. He looks at you with empty eyes for he knows his death is before him and says:
"Friend, I don't want you to grieve for me. We knew the task we undertook was likely to cause our death so 'tis no surprise." He shakes his head. "We had fun, didn't we?" There is a long moment of silence, but you can see the tears begin to fall from his eyes. Slowly he grabs your coat as if he was squeezing the life out of the smooth leather. "I don't want to die, friend. I...don't...want...to..." His words slowly and quietly fade away. You stand silently as you watch him pass from this life.
Now how did you feel about that? It can be some powerful stuff, but that's what a good storyline and script can do if properly worked. Timing is everything. You can expect scenes like the one above in Age Of Darkness. But just the sheer amount of text in this game is almost frightening. There are two of us working on getting the text typed in and it looks like we're going to have to make a text editor in order to get the format we're after. I'll admit that we've spent quite a bit of time trying to get everything typed in. It's necessary because the script is the most important part of the game.
Another thing that's been getting our attention is the conversation system. I wish I could say that we had everything worked out, but alas. You see, there's no real point in sticking with the basic "press the 'A' button and just get the person's response". Why, you ask? Well, there's a lot to it. You can't really be complex if everything is simple. Well, let me rephrase that. Too much simplicity doesn't leave room for complexity. I always thought that Ultima IV and V were the best at conversation while games like Final Fantasy, Traysia, and Dragon Warrior were a bit weak. I didn't have to take any notes, nor do any thinking for that matter. Shadowrun for the Super NES was a good step at a simple, yet complex conversation system. My only beef was that there was a list of clue words and all you really had to do was try all of them to find something out. On the other side, Daggerfall's conversation system is so complex that it's so hard to get simple information. So what we're after is middle ground. We had to remember that Age Of Darkness is on a console system so there isn't a keyboard to work with. You would think that particular handicap would have been hard to overcome, but it was quite the opposite. What we have now is something that works in both categories and it allows us to be complex while being simple enough for anyone to use without pulling their hair out. I don't want to go into detail, but I'll just point out that you better have paper and pen handy while playing.
MORE NOTES: June 6, 1998
by James Garvin
It's been a long time since we've done an update to the Age Of Darkness section, and I bet that many were wondering what is going to be the fate of this particular game. Well, it's hard for me to answer this question because everything has been so expensive, and we still don't have an artist who's willing to tackle the job. Not only that, but we haven't had much help from the development community and that means more experimenting and layovers because of lack of equipment and support. All and all I'm sure you can understand how it was possible for us to reach a low state of morale. This is the sole reason why we started working on The Assassin. We needed a fresh start and time to building up much needed resources and also find an artist to help set everything in motion.
As much as I wanted to have everything completed in a reasonable amount of time, it just didn't seem to happen. But we haven't been totally sitting on our butts. I've gotten some music submitted that I think will work well with the game. I've been adding some refinements to the plot and doing some character sketches as well as trying to put together a script. I know it may not sound like much, but at least it keeps the plot and the game as a whole in the forefront of our memory.
So don't fret, there's still a possiblitity for it to be released, and I'm guessing we should have it together by late 1999, but that could change. I've still got some things to work out that could either move it forward or push it back, but in either case I think Age Of Darkness will open the eyes of people in the industry. Whether this is good or bad still remains to be seen.
MORE NOTES: July 23, 1998
by James Garvin
I think I need to make a statement about this game, because I'm sure many people have given up hope that it will ever see the light of day. I can understand that, and I can understand the Jaguar Community's skepticism. Believe me, if I could have things my way, this game would have been out last year. I'm not going to make promises about whether or not Age will be released, but I'm doing everything humanly possible to make sure it does. At the moment, I have too many obstacles with one of them being the lack of an artist. I've come to have an interesting view of artists over the past year, and it's not a good one. What good is a game which is supposed to impress people if it looks like crap? I'm not going to taint my company's image anymore than it already has been with a shoddy product. I'm sure no one would appreciate it, either.
Contrary to belief, I do have quite a bit of stuff worked out so far. I'm keeping everything secret on purpose. Though, I do have some little tidbits that will become availabe this weekend. I hope that will put everyone's fears to rest. I don't want the project to die just yet. If I don't have something up this weekend, then feel free to flame me for it.
MORE NOTES: August 16, 1998
by James Garvin
Hasn't been much going on lately except I've been toying with some algorithim problems concerning stats and how they advance from level to level. I've been working on getting some of the things I've scanned touched up and ready to be posted on-line as a matter of fact I should have the map of Detche ready by the end of the day. Since these are our actual maps, I'm having to go back and erase all of our scribbles and notes. I didn't think it would be that much work, but I was wrong. Actually, what you're looking at on the maps will be almost exactly how you'll see them on the Jaguar when you access the map screen. The only main changes will be the inclusion of the main map of Tannis in the top right hand corner, animated water, and more overall color on the map itself. The resolution is a bit high, and I think it will be changed before the final release. It depends on the overall average load time of the game. I had originally decided to leave this part until last, but once I got started I figured I'd go ahead and do it all.
There will also be some conceptual shots of Vorlan which are partially finished penciled drawings we put together in order to get a general idea of what Vorlan looked like. There are actually other characters that have been done, but I'll keep them under wraps until the game is a week away from being released. Don't want to ruin it for you.
The planar map will actually change to polygons I just haven't gotten the script yet for it, and it will be three screens high and have the possibility of being rotated. I want this map to be the most interesting.
MORE NOTES: November 9, 1998
by James Garvin
It took some time, but I finally got the world map completed. I'm sure that many will be a bit disappointed, but don't be. My original map was full of information I felt shouldn't be leaked, but you can still get excited, as this is the actual model I use for the game. That's why the background is black. Unlike the previous map of Detche, I didn't bother to touch it up.
Next in line are some conceptual drawings of Vorlan. Though, this is going to happen gradually. I have a ton of stuff that needs to be worked on for The Assassin. I don't want to sway too far from my current goal. As always, if you have questions or comments, go ahead and send them. I always try to listen.
MORE NOTES: February 21, 1999
by James Garvin
Finally got the homepage of Age Of Darkness setup. I'll admit that I haven't worked on the game much, as The Assassin has been consuming most of our time and resources, but I have been "playing" with things from time to time. Just to keep the ideas fresh in my mind for when we actually get back to the game. The beauty of working on The Assassin before finishing this game is that it allows me to refine some things which I wasn't sure of, and it will guarantee that the finished product will be something worthy of the expectations everyone has. At the current rate, it's quite possible we will have some screenshots available for the game, and I'm working on at least getting the title screen typed in and the text put together. I already have a font picked out and it has a gothic feel too it. So I just wanted to clarify to those who think we've forgotten about Age that we have not. The Assassin is just top priority at the moment.
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